Ralph Lauren Joins Ranks Testing Generative AI

Lisa Johnston
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Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is leveraging early learnings from existing artificial intelligence use cases to test generative AI across a range of business functions, company leaders shared. 

The apparel manufacturer and retailer is already using AI and machine learning in inventory optimization, forecasting, and consumer engagement, and it will test use of generative AI for such use cases as copy editing, graphics, and computer programming, CFO and COO Jane Nielsen said in an earnings call with investors, according to a transcript.  

The strategy aligns with efforts by other companies in the industry that are similarly exploring the use of the fast-moving technology. The experimental nature also dovetails with other pilots by Ralph Lauren during its most recent quarter, including launching its first NFTs in partnership with the Poolsuite platform and its Web3 community, 

Ralph Lauren, which is leaning into the luxury market as part of its longtime growth plans, added 1 million new consumers to its direct-to-consumer business during the fourth quarter, to reach a total of 5 million new DTC consumers this fiscal year. It also reached 52 million social media followers globally.

“Our direction of travel from a strategic standpoint is to pivot the company further into DTC,” said CEO Patrice Louvet. “Our DTC today is about 63%, 64% of [revenue] for the total company. And as we guided during Investor Day [in September 2022], we expect the numbers to be north of that in the coming years.” 

Sales for Ralph Lauren’s digital ecosystem. which includes directly operated sites, pure-play, department store dot-coms, and social commerce, increased high-single digits during the year. Owned digital sites alone saw sales grow mid-single digits, and the company has put user experience enhancements through digital content and more customer personalization on its roadmap for the upcoming fiscal year.

Though Q4 revenue grew 2% in North America, retail comp-store sales dipped 4%. Physical retail remains a core component of its bid to drive connected commerce, and Ralph Lauren welcomed 21 new stores and concession-based shop-in-shops around the world in Q4. This included a particular emphasis in China, which the company expects to remain one of its fastest-growing markets. 

The company, which has closed two-thirds of its wholesale doors in North America over the last three to four years, plans to open 250 stores over the next three years

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